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Economy

6.6 Million Americans Applied For Unemployment Last Week

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6,648,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits in the last week of March as the coronavirus pandemic threatens the sustainability of businesses across the country, according to a report released by the Labor Department Thursday.

“Similar to last week’s unemployment claims numbers, today’s report reflects the sacrifices American workers are making for their families, neighbors, and country in order to ‘slow the spread.’ The Administration continues to act quickly to address this impact on American workers,” Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said in a statement Thursday.

The statement continued, “That includes a rule the Labor Department adopted yesterday to implement the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Department’s work with the States to make available the enhanced unemployment benefits provided in the CARES Act, which the President signed last week. That legislation also contains significant incentives for businesses to retain workers and continue paying them, which will put businesses and workers in a better position to resume work and re-boot the economy once the virus is contained.”

In the previous week, there were 3,341,000 claims. The latest number of jobless Americans marks the “highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series,” according to the report.

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Economy

NY Lawmakers want to tax tech giants to get $500M to fund unemployment benefits for illegal migrants

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New York lawmakers are debating over a proposed Democratic initiative that would pave the way for a multibillion-dollar fund designed to provide unemployment benefits for illegal immigrants. Spearheaded by state Senator Jessica Ramos, a Queens Democrat, the proposal has ignited passionate discussions within the Senate Finance Committee, where it currently awaits further deliberation.

The Center Square reports the proposal would utilize a $500 million trust fund earmarked specifically to offer jobless benefits for individuals who find themselves ineligible for traditional unemployment payments and other public assistance programs. To finance this ambitious endeavor, proponents of the plan are advocating for the imposition of a novel tax targeting tech behemoths like Google and Amazon. This tax, aimed at digital advertising revenue, is projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars to sustain the fund.

Ramos has alluded to her belief that migrants are a fundamental contribution to the state’s economy. Despite their authorization to work, payment of taxes, and active involvement in the labor force, undocumented immigrants face a glaring disparity—they are excluded from accessing vital safety nets like unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs.

In a social media post, Ramos cited the expiration of federal unemployment insurance for freelancers and the depletion of the Excluded Workers Fund. She argues vehemently for a safety net aligned with the evolving dynamics of the labor market, one that extends support to all workers, regardless of their immigration status.

The proposed fund, aptly named the Unemployment Bridge Program, outlines comprehensive eligibility criteria encompassing a spectrum of marginalized workers—from undocumented migrants to freelancers and individuals recently released from incarceration or immigrant detention. By establishing clear guidelines and procedures, the program endeavors to streamline the application process, ensuring equitable access to unemployment benefits for those in need.

The initiative comes in the wake of prolonged deliberations regarding jobless benefits for undocumented immigrants and nontraditional workers in New York. Amid the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state previously allocated $2.1 billion to the Excluded Workers Fund, offering a lifeline to those excluded from conventional unemployment benefits.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2025 underscores a commitment to supporting asylum seekers, with significant allocations directed towards housing and legal assistance. The proposal has met with opposition from Republicans, who argue for prioritizing legal residents and taxpayers in the allocation of state resources. Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt contends that limited resources should be reserved exclusively for those who have contributed to the state’s tax base.

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